Steamboat Springs Routt County is pursuing state grant funds to clean up waste tire piles in South Routt County.
The issue was brought to the forefront last fall by complaints about a recent pile in the Oak Creek canyon. The tires were supposed to be disposed of before the end of fall, but once Routt County was alerted to the situation, it discovered that only haulers registered with the state are allowed to transport that many waste tires.
The new regulations were put into effect in 2011 to better track where waste tires were going and promote reuse.
“We had a big problem in the state,” said Brian Gaboriau, of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The tires were “just transported all over, and the state had no idea where they were going.”
Waste tires now are tracked with a manifest system from their original location to final disposal.
The goal is to “make sure the tires are going where they should be going and not just being dumped somewhere,” Gaboriau said.
Once the county found out about the regulations, the operation in the canyon was halted, and before a new plan could be initiated, snow started to fall.
“We just had never been involved with an enforcement action with this kind of problem,” Routt County Environmental Health Director Mike Zopf said.
The tires in the Oak Creek canyon were from another pile on the edge of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area that has been a longstanding issue with the county under the property’s previous owner. There also is a pile next to the town of Oak Creek’s wastewater plant.
All three piles will be covered in a grant to contract a registered hauler to move and dispose of the tires.
“We needed to wait until the tires were visible,” Zopf said about the recent turn in weather melting the snow covering the piles.
Zopf said he now hopes the tires will be moved and disposed of by late summer or early fall.
Gaboriau said he considered the South Routt piles a small job. A trailer typically can haul 1,500 tires per trip, he said, and it’s his understanding there’s somewhere between 2,000 to 4,000 tires.
“If tires are all in same general area and are above ground, then cleanup itself should take less than a week,” Gaboriau said.
One of the acceptable uses for the tires, Zopf said, is to grind them up and use them as cover or to improve the drainage at the Milner landfill.
“We’re anxious to get it cleaned up,” he said. “We have been receiving some calls.”
To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz